The Minimum Practice Standards: Specialist and Community Support Services Responding to Child Sexual Abuse (Standards) were launched on Wednesday 6 September 2023 under the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021-2030.
The Standards embed the three core values of being victim and survivor centered, trauma-informed, and culturally safe, across the six standards.
Do the Standards apply to my organisation?
The Standards apply to specialist and community support services responding to child sexual abuse, including:
- survivor and peer-led services;
- non-statutory services provided by government and non-government agencies, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations;
- services that offer secondary or tertiary responses;
- those providing services to individuals of any age who have experienced or been impacted by child sexual abuse (including parents, partners, siblings, supporters, and advocates); and
- services that respond to children and young people who have displayed or who are at risk of displaying harmful sexual behaviours (noting that this terminology has not yet been settled at a national level and is subject to change).
The Standards are not intended to apply to:
- the education and health sectors, including primary intervention services such as safety or consent education services within schools;
- community support services such as housing or social wellbeing;
- specific statutory responses such as investigations by police or wellbeing assessments provided by child protection services; or
- private full free based services such as psychologists.
However, all organisations and services will benefit from drawing from the Standards to improve their responses to child sexual abuse.
The Six Standards
- Standard 1: Promotion of safety and self-determination.
Under this standard, organisations are required to provide victim / survivors with information, choice, flexibility, and a genuine connection to promote healing, recovery and resilience.
- Standard 2: Accessible and inclusive services.
Organisations are required to maximise their accessibility to all people, irrespective of their ability or disability, cultural background, linguistic skills, religious beliefs, sexuality or gender identity.
- Standard 3: Holistic and integrated responses.
This standard recognises that child sexual abuse has a far reaching effect to cause harm to individuals, their families and the wider community. It requires organisations to take an integrated approach to engage with care teams, families, advocates and supporters to avoid a ‘siloed’ support service.
- Standard 4: Experience, research and practice informed way of working.
Organisations are encouraged to review their practices to keep up with current research, best practice, lived experience and cultural knowledge. Staff should have a clear understanding of the services they deliver and how their service will benefit those who engage with them.
- Standard 5: Skilled and supported workforce.
Under this standard, organisations are required to ensure that staff have the necessary knowledge and skills to respond to child sexual abuse, including ongoing professional development. In recognition of the impact of burnout, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue on workers, organisations are also required to support staff to manage their wellbeing by providing self-care strategies and therapeutic supervision.
- Standard 6: Effective organisational governance.
It is not enough for Boards to implement mechanisms to support the implementation of the Standards. Leaders in the organisation are required to embed the Standards in organisational culture and decision making. This requires an understanding of not only the trauma caused by child sexual abuse but also how it occurs and is maintained.
Helpfully, under each standard are ‘standard indicators’ which organisations can draw from to implement each standard within their own practices and services.
How we can help
Our Safeguarding team can assist your organisation to draw on the Standards to strengthen your organisation’s practices when responding to and preventing child sexual abuse. Our team of experts can support your entire organisation to comply with the Standards, from providing guidance to your Board, through to policy development and delivering staff training. Contact Skye Rose or Cecelia Irvine-So for more information about how we can support your organisation to take this incredibly important step to providing a safe environment for all children.
Please contact us for more detailed and tailored help.
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Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. You should seek legal advice regarding the application of the law to you or your organisation.